NEWS of the Day - May 15, 2012
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day - May 15, 2012
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...

We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...


From the L.A. Daily News

Fourth annual gun buyback brings in 1,673 firearms

by Rick Orlov

Calling it a small dent in the city's war on gun violence, Los Angeles officials announced Monday that they collected 1,673 firearms in the fourth annual gun buyback over the weekend.

The city had $200,000 in vouchers that Ralphs grocery stores donated for this year's program, in which 791 handguns - including a matching pair of pistols valued at $2,000 - 527 rifles, 302 shotguns and 53 assault weapons were turned in to the Los Angeles Police Department.

"What are assault weapons like these doing on the streets of Los Angeles? I think the answer will be, `nothing productive,"' Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference where he displayed the weapons.

"You're not hunting ducks with this stuff. Too often, these weapons are used to hunt and shoot down people."

The gun buyback, criticized by some as bringing in only weapons of little value, is one tool the city uses to reduce crime, the mayor and police chief said.

"Every day, the chief, his command staff and I get the same message on our Blackberries," Villaraigosa said.

"It reads young male Hispanic or young male black, 22, 13, 26, or 27 is dead. Shot to death, often by another young male. We have to do something to stop this continuous cycle of violence."

Police Chief Charlie Beck said the weapons turned in are often no longer wanted in a person's house and, too often, end up in the accidental death of someone or in a suicide.

Pointing to the guns laid out before him, Beck said he recognizes they were only a small portion of the weapons out in the community.

"You have to figure there are 3 million weapons out there," Beck said. "We are doing all we can to reduce that with programs like this."

The guns are checked to see if they are registered and if they are stolen. Most, however, will end up being shredded and the scrap metal turned over to artists.

This year, artist Victor Hugo made a sculpture in honor of a friend who died from gun violence.

"Working with the LAPD, this sculpture is a portrait of a friend of mine," Hugo said. "I dedicate this to all the families who have dealt with gun violence.

"This was an important message of transformation of turning something ugly into a thing of beauty."



Southern California Gas warns customers of social security number scam

by City News Service

LOS ANGELES - Southern California Gas Co. warned its customers today about a scam in which the culprits tell victims they can get credits on their utility bills if they provide information such as a Social Security number.

According to the gas company, scammers have visited customers in person, used social media sites and even sent text messages to victims claiming that President Barack Obama is offering a program of bill credits or direct payment of bills.

Gas Co. officials said workers for the utility always carry proper identification when visiting customers, and they do not randomly call or text customers asking for Social Security numbers or other personal information. Customers should verify a person's employment before allowing anyone into their home or providing any information, according to the company.

To verify the authenticity of anyone claiming to be a representative of SoCalGas, customers should ask for proper identification or call the utility at 1-800-427-2200, or 1-800-342-4545.



From the Washington Times

Mexico drug war's latest toll: 49 headless bodies

by Olga R. Rodriguez

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — Police found 49 mutilated bodies scattered in a pool of blood near the border with the United States, a region in which Mexico‘s two dominant drug cartels are trying to outdo each other in bloodshed while warring over smuggling routes.

The bodies of 43 men and six women with their heads, hands and feet chopped off were dumped at the entrance to the town of San Juan, on a highway that connects the industrial city of Monterrey with Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas.

At the spot where authorities discovered the bodies before dawn Sunday, a white stone arch that normally welcomes visitors to the town was spray-painted with “100% Zeta” in black letters — an apparent reference to the fearsome Zetas drug cartel that was founded by deserters from the Mexican army's special forces.

The bodies, some of them in plastic garbage bags, were most likely brought to the spot and dropped from the back of a dump truck, Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said.

Mr. Domene said the dead would be hard to identify because of the lack of heads, hands and feet. The remains were taken to a Monterrey auditorium for DNA tests.

The victims could have been killed as long as two days ago at another location, then transported to San Juan, a town in the municipality of Cadereyta, about 105 miles west-southwest of McAllen, and 75 miles southwest of the Roma, Texas, border crossing, state Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said.

Only one couple looking for their missing daughter visited the morgue in Monterrey, where autopsies were being performed Sunday, a state police investigator said.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case, said none of the six female bodies matched the missing daughter's description. He said some of the bodies were badly decomposed and some had their whole arms or lower legs missing.

Mr. de la Garza said he did not rule out the possibility that the victims were U.S.-bound migrants.

But it seemed more likely that the killings were the latest salvo in a gruesome game of tit for tat in fighting between the Zetas and the powerful Sinaloa Cartel.

Mass body dumpings have increased around Mexico in the past six months of escalating fighting between the Zetas and Sinaloa, which is led by fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and its allies, the federal attorney general's office said in statement late Sunday.

The two cartels have committed “irrational acts of inhumane and inadmissible violence in their dispute,” the office said, reiterating it is offering $2 million rewards for information leading to the arrests of Mr. Guzman; Ismael Zambada, another Sinaloa cartel leader; and Zetas leaders Heriberto Lazacano Lazcano and Miguel Trevino .

Under President Felipe Calderon's nearly six-year offensive against organized crime, the two cartels have emerged as Mexico‘s two most powerful gangs and are battling over strategic transport routes and territory, including along the northern border with the U.S. and in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

In less than a month, the mutilated bodies of 14 men were left in a van in downtown Nuevo Laredo, 23 people were found hanged or decapitated in the same border city, and 18 dismembered bodied were left near Mexico‘s second-largest city, Guadalajara. Nuevo Laredo, like Monterrey, is considered Zeta territory, while Guadalajara long has been controlled by gangs loyal to Sinaloa.

“This is the most definitive of all the cartel wars,” said Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at Mexico‘s National Autonomous University.

The Zetas are a transient gang without real territory or a secure stream of income, unlike Sinaloa, with its lucrative cocaine trade and control of smuggling routes and territory, Mr. Benitez said. But the Zetas are heavily armed while Sinaloa has a weak enforcement arm, he said.

The government's success in killing or arresting cartel leaders has fractured other once big cartels into weaker, quarreling bands that in many cases are lining up with either the Zetas or Sinaloa. At least one of those two cartels is present in nearly all of Mexico‘s 32 states.

A year ago this month, more than two dozen people — most of them Zetas — were killed when they tried to infiltrate the Sinaloa's territory in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit.

But their war started in earnest last fall in Veracruz, a strategic smuggling state with a giant Gulf port.

A drug gang allied with Sinaloa left 35 bodies on a main boulevard in the city of Veracruz in September, and police found 32 other bodies, apparently killed by the same gang, a few days after that. The goal apparently was to take over territory that had been dominated by the Zetas.

Twenty-six bodies were found in November in Guadalajara, another territory being disputed by the Zetas and Sinaloa.

Drug violence has killed more than 47,500 people since Mr. Calderon launched a stepped-up offensive when he took office in December 2006.

Mexico is now in the midst of presidential race to replace Mr. Calderon, who by law can't run for re-election. Drug violence seems to be escalating, but none of the major candidates has referred directly to mass killings. All say they will stop the violence and make Mexico a more secure place, but offer few details on how their plans would differ from Mr. Calderon‘s.

Mr. Benitez said the wave of violence has nothing to do with the presidential election.

“It has the dynamic of a war between cartels,” he said.



‘No jail time' urged in webcam case

Former Rutgers student's backers nix hate-crime law

by Geoff Mulvihill

TRENTON, N.J. — Several hundred protesters gathered Monday at the New Jersey Statehouse to show support for a former Rutgers student convicted of bias intimidation and to call attention to what they see as injustices in New Jersey's hate-crime laws.

The rally was in support of Dharun Ravi, a 20-year-old former Rutgers student who was convicted in March of 15 criminal counts, including four charges of bias intimidation, for using his webcam to view a brief live clip of his roommate kissing another man. Most of Mr. Ravi's supporters were Indian-American, like he is.

The roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide days after the online peeping in September 2010 and quickly became a national symbol of bullying victims.

Ravi's supporters see him as a symbol, too - of the justice system gone awry in search of someone to blame. Ravi could get 10 years in prison when he's sentenced May 21. He could also face deportation to India, where he was born and lived as a young child and remains a citizen.

“If this kid ends up in jail on Monday,” said Sandeep Sharma, one of the organizers of the rally, “my faith will be shaken in this country.”

Ravi's attorneys have asked a judge to overturn his conviction. Failing that, they say he should not serve any prison time. In court papers, the Middlesex County prosecutor's office has said that Ravi deserves prison time - though not the 10-year maximum sentence he faces.

The protesters were mostly professionals, some dressed in business suits. They held signs and chanted slogans such as “No jail time,” and “Drop all charges.” Some held posters quoting former Gov. James E. McGreevey, who is gay, saying Ravi should not be sent to prison.

Ravi, who lives in Plainsboro, was not there, but his parents were. His mother, Sabitha Ravi, addressed the crowd, telling them she thinks the media should help her son.

“They know he didn't get a fair trial,” she said.

Mr. Sharma said he does not have high hopes for Monday's rally helping keep Ravi from getting a prison sentence, but said it could lead to changes in the state's hate-crime laws. He and some others met with the staffs of several lawmakers earlier Monday to talk about bias intimidation.

The rally represented a role reversal for some people in central New Jersey's large Indian community.

Pradip Kothari said he was among those who pushed for New Jersey lawmakers to introduce hate-crime legislation more than two decades ago after a 30-year-old Indian-American man, Navroze Mody, was beaten to death at a Hoboken train station in 1987 by a group of so-called anti-Indian “dot-busters.”

Mr. Kothari, who now owns a travel agency in Edison, said prosecutors didn't use hate-crime laws over the years when his previous building, in Iselin, was vandalized.

“In 22 years,” he told the crowd, but addressing prosecutors whom he said were unfair, “you didn't find one person to try.”



From Google News

Illegal immigrant worked 20 years at airport security

(CBS/AP) NEWARK, N.J. - An illegal immigrant worked undetected at Newark Liberty International Airport for 20 years, and used a dead man's identity to acquire a top position in airport security, officials said.

The man was known to co-workers as Jerry Thomas, and for nearly 20 years he has guarded some of the most secure areas of one of the nation's busiest airports.

He was arrested Monday after authorities discovered he is really an illegal Nigerian immigrant by the name of Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole (among other alilases) who entered the country in 1989, officials said.

CBS Station WCBS reports Oyewole, 54, allegedly assumed the identity of a dead man to get a top security job at the airport. He was arrested at his Elizabeth, N.J., home following an anonymous tip, officials said.

"In this case, the defendant utilized an elaborate and complex scheme of identity theft to defraud his employer, the State of New Jersey, the federal government and the Port Authority," Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Inspector General Robert Van Etten said.

The revelation came the same day that the Inspector General's Office of the Transportation Security Administration released a report saying that TSA officials at Newark Liberty took corrective actions in fewer than half (42 percent) of the security breaches shown in its records.

The OIG also said TSA does not have a comprehensive oversight program in order to collate information on security breaches and, consequently, cannot monitor trends or make improvements to security.

WCBS correspondent Marcia Kramer reports that Oyewole somehow obtained the birth certificate and Social Security number of a man murdered in Queens in 1992. He used that identity to obtain a New Jersey driver's license, a state security guard license, airport identification and even credit cards, officials said.

"Jerry Thomas" worked security at Newark, and had access to the tarmac and passenger planes without ever being detected, officials said. At the time of his arrest he supervised 30 other guards, Kramer reported.

Authorities want to know how he got the ID made and whether he was involved in the man's death. The NYPD is checking his fingerprints to see if they match those at the scene of the still-unsolved murder.

Authorities are also investigating if the Nigerian, who used the alias "Bimbo" among others, was involved in criminal activity at the airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the area's main airports and other transit hubs, said Oyewole entered the United States illegally in 1989 and had worked under several contractors at the airport, most recently FJC Security Services. The agency said its investigation found no indication that he used the fake identity for any reason other than to live in the United States.

Agency spokesman Steve Coleman said the Port Authority had spoken with FJC officials about re-checking their security personnel on a regular basis.

FJC Security, which obtained an airport contract in 2003, said it conducted a background check on the guard, as had New Jersey State Police and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and that in all cases Oyewole had passed the background checks. "During his time with FJC, he had nothing in his record or his performance to indicate a cause for concern or a reason to question the state police and federal government's background checks," said FJC spokesman Michael McKeon.

State Police spokesman Lt. Stephen Jones said New Jersey requires security guards to undergo training under the Security Officer Registration Act (SORA) and be fingerprinted. The fingerprints are run through the state police criminal history database before a guard is certified.

A candidate is disqualified if he or she has a conviction for a fourth-degree offense or higher or a drug offense of any level, Jones said. Oyewole - as Thomas - was certified under SORA, he said.

In a statement, the TSA said it was reviewing the Port Authority's procedures for validating employee and contractor documents, and noted that Oyewole's identification documents were presented to the Port Authority for verification "about a decade before TSA existed."

Highly-placed sources told WCBS' Marcia Kramer that their biggest concern is the ID scam itself. They fear there could be thousands who could have used it and some they say may be sleeper terror agents working at critical locations throughout the country.

Passengers were stunned.

"It's unbelievable," traveler Christine Phillips of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., told WCBS correspondent Hazel Sanchez. "They need to use fingerprints. They need to use eye retinas. We need to get into the space age and update our programs because these things aren't working."



Police: Phony officer could be killing Mississippi drivers

by Lateef Mungin

(CNN) -- Someone who may be posing as a police officer is pulling cars over on Mississippi highways and then shooting drivers dead, authorities said.

After two such shootings this month, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public's help to find the person.

"There are some similarities between the two incidents, mainly the fact they happened alongside a Mississippi highway," said MBI Director Lt. Col. Larry Waggoner on Monday. "The concern is that someone is posing as a law enforcement officer and that is how these vehicles end up on the side of the road."

The first shooting occurred on May 8. Thomas Schlender, 74, was found dead in his car in the median of southbound Interstate 55 about 1:30 a.m.

On Friday, Lori Anne Carswell, 48, was found dead outside her car on the shoulder of Mississippi State Highway 713 about 2:15 a.m.

The shootings took place about 55 miles apart, and the victims did not know each other, authorities said.

Authorities are asking citizens to be careful if they are pulled over and feel uneasy. They advise drivers to call 911 and verify that a legitimate officer is pulling them over or drive to a well-lit, crowded place before stopping.